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This wedding homily is so awesome, it could save your marriage

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Editor’s note: LifeSiteNews is pleased to bring you on St. Valentine’s Day an extraordinary wedding homily on the topic of the authentic meaning of true love between man and woman.

BARRY’S BAY, Ontario, February 14, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A Catholic deacon gave an extraordinary wedding homily to a young couple outlining where a married man and woman can find the “golden keys” to unlock the secrets to true peace, joy, and happiness in their marriage.

Dr. Bob McDonald, a medical doctor who practices psychotherapy, told Marie-Therese and Alexander Bartul during their wedding homily in December that because they are both faithful Christians who are getting married in a Church in the presence of God, their marriage is not simply a “human contract,” but a “supernatural reality.”

And it turns out, he said, that this makes all the difference when it comes to strong, healthy, happy marriages that last ‘till death do us part.’

“Your relationship is being sacramentalized,” he said, “whereby the God who created you now personally blesses your union.”

“As a result, special grace becomes constantly available to you both for the rest of your married life together and you can call upon it as often as you need it, in good times and bad, in sickness or in health, in joy or in sorrow.”

McDonald said that such special graces are real and are for the taking for when a husband and wife find themselves going through hard times.

It’s a needed message in a time when marriage is under massive assault. So many young people are giving up on marriage because a life-long commitment seems impossible. Many marriages that seemed strong at the beginning are falling apart when the “good times” leave and the “bad times” come.

God promises to “give you divine strength in hard times and to be always faithful to you. God cannot be unfaithful and so you can be utterly certain that he will always be by your side, ready and eager to give you whatever you need along the road you will travel together,” said McDonald.

The deacon outlined the main obligation Christian spouses have to one another.

“Your obligation to one another can be summed up in one simple statement: Your duty is to help each other get to heaven,” he said.

The husband fulfills this obligation by being the “moral authority” in the home, part of which means calling “your wife to prayer and to gentle obedience to the holy precepts and commandments of God.”

The wife fulfills this obligation by being the “love authority” of the union. “You must teach your husband the mysteries of God’s love, because it is the woman’s heart which intuitively understands this mystery far more naturally than a man.”

“You must encourage each other to grow in God’s wisdom, that is to say, to grow in holiness and to become the saints which God created you to be,” he said.

McDonald said that while husband and wife are called to become “one flesh,” this means more than bodily union, but a union of “mind and heart.”

He said that this principle is “extremely important” when it comes to making decisions.

“When the two of you are in agreement about anything, the Holy Spirit has inspired that agreement and you can confidently proceed with your decision. But, what if you do not agree? What then?”

“Well, the Holy Spirit is still active, but he is waiting to see which one of you will give up his or her opinion and humbly submit to the opinion of the other – an act of true love,” he said.

A husband and wife will only truly love each other properly if they love God first, and love God more than one’s spouse.

“Alexander, you must love Marie-Therese more than you love yourself and you must love God more than you love Marie-Therese.  Likewise, Marie-Therese you must love Alexander more than you love yourself, and love God more than you love Alexander,” he said.

True love is not an emotion or feeling that flees during the bad times, but it is a choice rooted in the grace that came when the spouses exchanged vows.

“So, what does it mean to love one another? It means self-sacrifice and self-donation. It means giving yourself to the other with no conditions, no strings attached and even where this incurs suffering,” said the deacon.

“Some couples have the attitude of ‘I will love you so long as you love me.’ That is the wrong sentiment. The true Christian stance should be ‘I will love you always, even if you do not love me back.’ My love for you is not a faucet which I can turn on and off. It is an immutable fact, and you can totally trust in that.”

“Other couples say, ‘I will love you as long as you meet my needs.’  Well, that is hardly love at all. It is totally conditional, and the bottom line is, of course, that no human being can meet all of your needs all of the time and you can’t either."

“Love means serving one another. And, to do that well it means exploring each other as persons, discovering what makes your spouse happy and content, knowing what makes him or her unhappy or sad or even irritable and then setting about the holy task of serving with your special talents. Do everything for your spouse which is pleasing and as much as you can avoid that which is displeasing,” he added.

The deacon said a test of true love is a “willingness to lay down your life for your wife or husband,” which could happen in two ways.

“The first way is in the day-to-day routine of life, dying to self for the sake of the other in all kinds of little ways, giving up your immediate needs in the interest of your life-long spouse,” he said.

“The second way is not the likeliest, but who knows what the Holy Spirit may ask of you, and that is to actually risk and even lose your life in order to save the other. The first way is the white martyrdom of day-to-day living. The second way is the red martyrdom, which guarantees instant entry into heaven,” he added.

McDonald called love a “very demanding mistress.”

“She demands everything you’ve got in donating your all to your spouse,” he said.

“The beauty of it is that it is not as impossible as it sounds. How can you go far wrong with God the Father to love you, Jesus his Son to lead you, and the Holy Spirit to inspire you and sanctify you. Then, Jesus gives you his blessed mother to protect you, to wrap her mantle of motherly love around you and to intercede for you with her Son.  All the angels and saints are rejoicing with you today and they too are praying for your marriage and your happiness and your holiness,” he added.

The deacon then set forth what he called the “golden keys” for a happy marriage.

“Marie-Therese and Alexander, know that your love will endure and deepen as time goes by, if you build your marriage on the Catholic faith, on the sacrifice of the Mass and on the Holy Eucharist — which should be the very heart of your family life and which you will share today — and on the rosary and on the virtues. These are the golden keys to your journey together to paradise,” he said.

The deacon concluded with advice about how to remain faithful to one another and to Jesus throughout their married lives:

“Remember the blessed mother’s words to the steward in today’s Gospel: ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ So, make it your goal in life to do whatever Jesus tells you, and the good wine of God’s grace will be a never-ending source of strength to you both.”

***

LifeSiteNews is pleased to provide Dr. Bob McDonald’s complete homily.

Marie-Therese and Alexander, this is a day of great joy.  

First of all, it is a joyful day for both of you as you commit your lives to each other and to God.  

But secondly, it is a joyful day for everyone gathered here in this Church today.  All of us are present as witnesses, members of the Christian community and together we come to witness your vows, to share in your joy, to offer you our loving support for the years ahead and to promise you our prayers.

Thirdly,  by your love and your covenant, all of us are strengthened in our own love and covenant with one another and with God.

Fourthly, this is a joyful day in heaven where the Trinity of God the Father, Jesus the Son and the glorious Holy Spirit, together with Mary the mother of God, and all the angels and saints are jubilant and celebrating this lovely sacrament today.  They know that your covenant with each other is also a covenant with God and that it is therefore being blessed by God himself. Today you are not simply promising to be husband and wife: You are also solemnly offering yourselves as a couple to God in heaven.  Your relationship is being sacramentalised so that it will not simply be a human contract but rather a supernatural reality whereby the God who created you now personally blesses your union. As a result, special grace becomes constantly available to you both for the rest of your married life together and you can call upon it as often as you need it, in good times and bad, in sickness or in health, in joy or in sorrow.

At the marriage feast of Cana, which we proclaimed in today’s Gospel, Jesus did a very unexpected thing: He made 180 gallons of wine – far, far more than was necessary for the marriage celebration. I asked myself, why did he do this? Why was Jesus so extravagant? And the answer I received is that the wine represents the extravagant grace of God in your marriage sacrament.  And there is so much wine that the grace of God will never ever run out, so long as you both need it and ask for it, and for as long as you both shall live.  God can never be outdone in generosity and the wine of his grace knows no limits.

The marriage covenant which you enter upon today is a sublime promise made by both of you to God and also by God to both of you. You promise to be faithful to each other and to the truths of the Catholic faith and to the desires of God for you. God, in turn, promises to bless your union, to grace it with the very best of wine, to give you divine strength in hard times and to be always faithful to you.  God cannot be unfaithful and so you can be utterly certain that he will always be by your side, ready and eager to give you whatever you need along the road you will travel together.

Marie-Therese and Alexander, trust in this day. Trust in God’s promise to you. Trust in this sacrament. Never ever doubt that God had this day in his divine mind millions of years ago, even before time began. He desired that one day, Marie-Therese and Alexander would meet and become united in holy matrimony and that that day would be today. Be confident then of the blessing of the Lord God and that he will keep his promises to you both.

Your obligation to one another can be summed up in one simple statement: Your duty is to help each other get to heaven. For you Alexander, as husband, you have the solemn task of being the moral authority of your new home.  You must call your wife to prayer and to gentle obedience to the holy precepts and commandments of God. For you Marie-Therese, as wife, you are the love authority of this union. You must teach your husband the mysteries of God’s love, because it is the woman’s heart which intuitively understands this mystery far more naturally than a man.  You must encourage each other to grow in God’s wisdom, that is to say, to grow in holiness and to become the saints which God created you to be.

But your obligation does not stop with each other. If it did, you would be living a life of selfish isolation. No. Jesus created a Church — the Catholic Church — and he desires that we enter into communion with the Church. Therefore, you as a married couple must contribute to the Church community, be faithful to the Church community, and do what you can to build it up. By your quiet example of never missing mass, of regular and frequent confession, of public prayer, of obvious joy and love for each other and Jesus, you strengthen us in our faith journey. You let us see that it is not impossible to be good. God is not asking too much of us when he requires that we obey the 10 Commandments, receive the sacraments frequently, repent of our sins, remain faithful in love and in prayer and offer up our suffering to him for the good of his kingdom.  When we see you live this out, then we are re-energized to do better and to work a little harder at our own vocation. Life is not easy and we become discouraged from time to time, but when we see you smiling at each other, when we see you going off to Church to adore Jesus in the blessed sacrament, when we visit your home and see symbols of the faith on the walls and a rosary and a Bible on your end tables, we say, “Yes. It can be done. Marie-Therese and Alexander are faithful. Therefore, I can be faithful too.”

As for those who do not yet know Jesus, how are they ever to find him if we do not show them his face?

And so, we must not fall into the trap of joining a cosy little faith community and spending all of our time looking inward.  No.  We must also look outward and win souls for heaven.  And we do that best by our example.  Live your faith.  Show others your joy, your peace and your love for each other, and they will be drawn to the warmth of your fire. Deep down, all people want what you enjoy – they just don’t know yet that it is Jesus, and only Jesus, who gives these very gifts. Once they discover that, they will hunger for more. Jesus needs you to introduce him to others. We must not keep him to ourselves. “Jesus, I want you to meet Suzanne.  Suzanne, this is Jesus” – and then the heavenly music of love can begin, the great love affair of God with men. And we who already possess the faith are the matchmakers, the evangelizers, the bringers of Jesus to a lost world.

Scripture emphasizes that you two now become “one flesh.”  That is an old Jewish expression which means much more than becoming one body. It means becoming, “one person.” “And the two shall become one.” This means that as you progress in your married life, you become more and more of one mind and one heart.  And here is an extremely important principle.

When the two of you are in agreement about anything, the Holy Spirit has inspired that agreement and you can confidently proceed with your decision. But, what if you do not agree? What then?

Well, the Holy Spirit is still active, but he is waiting to see which one of you will give up his or her opinion and humbly submit to the opinion of the other – an act of true love. In the first letter of John we read, “Let us love not in word or speech but in truth and action.” It is in humble submission to each other that you deepen your love for each other. As to living the truth, never beat your spouse over the head with the bald truth but rather always speak the truth with love. As it is written in Scripture, “veritas facientes in caritas” – for truth to take root, it must be delivered with gentleness and consideration of the other’s feelings.

So, let me give you a simple example.

Let us say that your spouse crunches his or her toast unbearably loudly every morning. It is increasingly a source of irritation to you morning after morning. So, eventually you believe you have saved up enough stamps to justifiably cash them in. So, you finally crack and you blurt out, “For goodness sake. Do you have to crunch your toast so much. I could hear you in the next village.  Quit doing that.”

Now, how do you think your spouse will react? Is it likely to be, “Oh, thank you, darling.  I am so grateful to you for pointing it out to me.”  Not likely! It is more probably, “Who do you think you are? I’ll do what I darn well please.”  And the battle is on in which there will be no winners, but only two losers. So, what is the loving response to the toast crunching drama?  It is for me to make the toast for my partner every morning from now on and literally to overlook that former irritant.

Then there is the true story of a dear priest friend of mine who, when he was about 12 years old was standing at the foot of the stairs in his house. His father was busy about something upstairs and mom was in the kitchen. Mom shouted out, “Ed, come and take out the garbage.” Ed thought he could flex the muscles of his make-believe manhood and he shouted back, “No!  Take it out yourself.” Eed said many years later, “I didn’t know that dad could be so fast. All of a sudden, he was standing right in front of me. He grabbed me by the shirt and said, “Never talk to your mother like that again.” Then he thought for a second and said, “Never mind that, no one talks to my wife like that.” Ed quickly learned that there was a special bond between mom and dad and that while he might be the product of that love, he could never disrupt that life-long commitment of husband and wife.

Therefore, Alexander, you have a profound obligation to defend your wife against all comers. She is to be supported by you, from anyone who would try to demean her. Certainly from your friends, from relatives, from strangers and especially from your children, if necessary. You must see to it that your children obey the fourth Commandment to honor their father and mother and to recognize that there is an exclusive and special relationship between mom and dad which they benefit from but do not share.

As for you, Marie-Therese, you should do everything to defend your husband’s good name and his manly dignity. Never let him be diminished or put down, but rather rush to his defense, no matter what.

Alexander, you must love Marie-Therese more than you love yourself and you must love God more than you love Marie-Therese.  Likewise, Marie-Therese you must love Alexander more than you love yourself, and love God more than you love Alexander.

So, what does it mean to love one another? It means self-sacrifice and self-donation. It means giving yourself to the other with no conditions, no strings attached and even where this incurs suffering. Some couples have the attitude of “I will love you so long as you love me.” That is the wrong sentiment. The true Christian stance should be “I will love you always, even if you do not love me back.” My love for you is not a faucet which I can turn on and off. It is an immutable fact, and you can totally trust in that. Other couples say, “I will love you as long as you meet my needs.”  Well, that is hardly love at all. It is totally conditional, and the bottom line is, of course, that no human being can meet all of your needs all of the time and you can’t either. Love means serving one another. And, to do that well it means exploring each other as persons, discovering what makes your spouse happy and content, knowing what makes him or her unhappy or sad or even irritable and then setting about the holy task of serving with your special talents. Do everything for your spouse which is pleasing and as much as you can avoid that which is displeasing.

The ultimate sign of your love is, of course, a willingness to lay down your life for your wife or husband. And, you might do that in two ways.

The first way is in the day-to-day routine of life, dying to self for the sake of the other in all kinds of little ways, giving up your immediate needs in the interest of your life-long spouse.

The second way is not the likeliest, but who knows what the Holy Spirit may ask of you, and that is to actually risk and even lose your life in order to save the other. The first way is the white martyrdom of day-to-day living. The second way is the red martyrdom, which guarantees instant entry into heaven.

It is a wondrous privilege for you both to have found someone you are willing to die for. Jesus found millions and billions of people he was willing to die for and he did lay down his life for each of them and for you personally. There is no greater love than this.

So, love is a very demanding mistress. She demands everything you’ve got in donating your all to your spouse. The beauty of it is that it is not as impossible as it sounds. How can you go far wrong with God the Father to love you, Jesus his Son to lead you, and the Holy Spirit to inspire you and sanctify you. Then, Jesus gives you his blessed mother to protect you, to wrap her mantle of motherly love around you and to intercede for you with her Son.  All the angels and saints are rejoicing with you today and they too are praying for your marriage and your happiness and your holiness.  And never forget the holy souls in purgatory. They cannot pray for themselves, but they can and do pray for you so intercede for them every day. They are our suffering brothers and sisters, and our faithful friends.

Marie-Therese and Alexander, know that your love will endure and deepen as time goes by, if you build your marriage on the Catholic faith, on the sacrifice of the Mass and on the Holy Eucharist — which should be the very heart of your family life and which you will share today — and on the rosary and on the virtues. These are the golden keys to your journey together to paradise.

Finally, do not be afraid to let your happiness, your light shine before others because it is a wonderful privilege to encourage others to give glory to our Father God. Let all the earth give him unending glory.

Remember the blessed mother’s words to the steward in today’s Gospel: “Do whatever he tells you.” So, make it your goal in life to do whatever Jesus tells you, and the good wine of God’s grace will be a never-ending source of strength to you both.

We wish you every joy and happiness in your new life together.

Amen.

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